It’s been a while – a little bit of writer’s block and a lack of new things to play has stopped me from writing anything for the past few weeks, but I have been keeping some notes aside to help me put something together today. As far as The Gamepad goes, the domain is mine and can be live but I’m just trying to make sure things look good.
At the beginning of the month was Play Expo Manchester, held at EventCity near the Trafford Centre. Tickets were fairly cheap for the day only, so we grabbed a pair for Saturday – doors open at 10, but we’re fashionable and cool, so we arrived for 11.
It was a pretty interesting day, although I don’t think I have the patience to stick around for too long – however, we did get to have a look at a couple of cool indie games that I’d like to share with you.
It’s the ‘summer’ of 2016 and that means two things: E3 has come (and gone) and the Steam Summer Sale is surely just around the corner! I’d readily admit that I didn’t binge-watch the entirety of E3 in my boxers (however much I would’ve loved to), but I did catch up with some of the presentations – namely Sony, Bethesda, Microsoft, Ubisoft and PC Gaming.
Before I continue, I’d like to issue a PSA: E3 is a giant, week long advertising event. The developers and publishers you saw on-stage over those precious days are all desperately trying to sell you their games, in the coming months or years. Things will change between now and The Future; Ubisoft will downgrade their graphics, you’ll fall through the floor in a Bethesda game and you might not get the “highest quality pixels” from Microsoft. Do not leap at the hype train yet, wait until the carriage has come to a complete stop and the doors have opened.
But, while the iron is relatively hot, I want to give you some of my impressions on a few of the things we saw at E3 2016…
If I ever wanted to recommend a game that was purely for winding down and not doing anything, it would be Mini Metro. It is a very simplistic subway simulator, linking up new stations with lines and making sure everyone gets where they want to go.
It couldn’t be easier to play; when you start a level, there are some shapes and nothing else. Draw a line between two, another line between the other two and you’re immediately qualified for the job. Keep watching and passengers will appear by stations, loudly declaring their destination. A train will swoop by, collect them and glide them over there.
We have a strange relationship with Japan – we’ll usually forget that it exists for most of our lives, but immediately glorify strange aspects of their culture when needed. It used to be nerds, with their anime and manga, but now we’re stuck with Babymetal and sushi as well. The world of gaming has benefited from Japanese culture as well, giving us classics like Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill and…
In short, Dark Souls takes the adage of ‘if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again’ and drags it to very limit. Nestled in with this core concept of repeated and humiliating defeats is a huge swath of lore, hidden piece by piece in item descriptions and dialogue of the world and a stunning environment. There are 4 games in the series, because we are gluttons for punishment: Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls and Dark Souls 2, with Dark Souls 3 releasing tomorrow.
I’ve spoken before about my thoughts on chopping and changing a game to make your money’s worth, in my article on Season Passes. The latest installment in the Hitman series was released earlier this month, with a whole new model of distribution – if you ignore the fact Telltale Games has mastered the art of episodic releases.
This Hitman game will be released in parts over… however long it takes, once a month, with a new area to complete before the next one drops. You can buy the game in different ways; either through the Full Experience, which will allow you to immediately download each part as it’s released, or the Intro Pack, where you’ll have to decide whether to upgrade for the full game or buy each part as it becomes available.
We, as humans, are obsessed with space. We had a race to the moon, we’ve dropped a robot on Mars and we’re trying to abandon some of our own on the Red Planet. We have a multitude of TV shows and movies that build on our want to explore the reaches of the universe. It should come as no surprise that there are plenty of games set in space we can enjoy, I’ve already reviewed Elite: Dangerous on this blog, and we seem to be going through an age of pure exploration games.
While we’re on the subject of games with cool concepts but disappointing results, let’s talk about Murdered: Soul Suspect.
You are Ronan Keating, ex-criminal turned detective in a town called Salem (oh yes, let’s get knee deep in the allegory right now) – despite being a hipster dressed like a 1930’s cop in the modern era, you’re pretty chuffed with your luck. So you decide to go arrest a local thug, only to get shot and fall out of a window. Oh no! No time to mope though, now you’re a ghost detective! Get out there and solve your murder!